A Travellerspoint blog

South Korean Surprise!

We spent a week in Seoul before finally heading home.

After bidding an emotional farewell to Europe we boarded our flight flight bound for our 1 last stop on the journey home. Our good friend Ash from our nursing class and her boyfriend had just moved to Seoul in South Korea for 3 months and we figured that was a pretty good reason to make a stop over. And plus, the flights worked out cheaper than flying straight home.

Now Seoul was about as different from everything we’d seen in Europe as you could possibly get. High rise buildings stretching as far as the eye can see and hundreds of people everywhere, not to mention the culture itself. But I think this helped us to love it just as much.

We had 5 full days in Seoul and we made sure that we fit in as much as we possibly could. From street market hopping and eating all the Korean food we could find, to strolling the streets and checking out the old temples we did as much as we possibly could. And the whole time Ash was the most gracious tour guide. Putting up with us when we wanted to go into every stall and little Korean souvenir store.

There’s simply too much of Korea to fit in one post so I’ll try and give you a summarised highlight version.

First highlight would definitely be Meyong-dong markets. This is pretty much the epitome of Korean street and food markets, surrounded by shopping and restaurants, all on a incredible packed block of streets. And probably my favourite place in Seoul.
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Next would be the Changdeokgung Palace and secret garden that we visited. Pretty amazing palace complex with and awesome palace garden.
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Seoul Tower. Maddie and I did the trip up Seoul tower at night and the view was absolutely incredible. You can literally see the entirety of Seoul spread in a fun circle around you. And at night the lights are amazing!
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An odd highlight for me would be the organisation of all the people. Coming from Sydney we know what it’s like to be fighting your way onto public transport or through crowds. But not in Korean. Those people are so polite and organised that they even line up for buses and trains when it gets busy. Seriously made the whole experience so much more enjoyable not having to fight your way onto the transport.

And last but not least the food! Dumplings, Bibimbap, Ramen, fried chicken, and Korean BBQ, not to mention all the amazing street food. The Korean BBQ would be my favourite of these which we gorged ourselves on for our last dinner in Seoul.
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Altogether we had an incredible time in Korean and we’re really glad that we made the decision to go there. Big thanks to Ash and Andy for having us stay with them and showing us around.
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And with our week in Korean done we boarded our last flight back home. I’m currently sitting not he train from Sydney after having landed at 10am this morning. And as sad as it is that our amazing adventure has come to an end, it’s also good to be home. On behalf of Maddie and myself I’d just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us through this adventure of a lifetime. Your constant messages of extreme jealousy, suggestions and recommendations, ooo’s and ahh’s when Frankie had a major malfunction, and all the encouragement in the world has seriously made the trip unforgettable for us. So thank you all, and we can’t wait to catch up with you all in person. All that’s left for us is to start planning our next trip. Who knows where that will be, but we can’t wait!
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“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”

Posted by ScottGosling 22:00 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Time to Fly

I am very, very sad to say that this post will bring an end to our epic adventure in Europe. While we haven't landed back on the soil of Australia yet, we have taken to the sky from Amsterdam with one last stop on the way home. But before we get into that I think it only right that we first talk about waffles.

Now if we're talking about waffles then we're talking about one place and one place only. Belgium. Once we had left France we headed to the city of Bruges. Bruges was absolutely amazing. It is the absolute mental picture of what we think of when we think traditional European village. With everything from church towers and amazing town halls, to cobblestone streets and canals. And of course, it wouldn't be Belgium without the most amazing waffles ever eaten and about 110 chocolate shops. We did do some nice touristy things like stroll along the canals, visit the windmills, and take a boat ride on the canals, which were all great. But if I'm being honest, it was mainly the food that we were interested in. We had waffles on a stick, fries from the country that gave light to the wonderful inverntion, Belgian chocolate galore, and the most amazing warm, gooey, cream and chocolate topped waffles ever! If you couldn't already tell, we lied Bruges!
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Also, one quick side note, while we were in Bruges we discovered that there was a magic switch that we needed to flick to charge the secondary battery in Frankie. So after a night of charging we had our lights a water pump working again. Woohoo!

Our next stop was Brussels. Now, being a capital city, Brussels didn't really have the same charm as Bruges, but we did still really like it there. Here we also did what would be our last walking tour of the trip and had probably our best tour guide so far. Starting in the really cool old town main square we saw amazing buildings and got a great feel for the city of Brussels. Naturally, we again had some incredible waffles (this time just plain) and some fries for lunch, before moving on again.
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This move took us further north again, and took Frankie back to her home country of the Netherlands. Our goal was the city of Breda where we were excited to catch up with Maddie's friend Lauren again who we had caught up with when we first arrived in Amsterdam all those months ago. Although we didn't really get to see much of Breda it seemed like a really cool town, and well dinner was delicious.

The next 2 days were spent getting Frankie ready to return home, with a little trip to Dordrecht along the way. After hours spent scrubbing Frankie from top to bottom we had her loookig pretty respectable. And then the day came. We drove Frankie back to the storage yard and, after saying our sad goodbyes, we left Frankie fo good.
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We still had 4 days before our flight so we headed to our home away from home in Amsterdam at Danika and Jeroen's house. Unfortunately Danika had to fly to the US for a conference so we only got to see her for about 10 seconds, but it was great getting to hang out with Jeroen again before we left. We pretty much spent these days in Amsterdam eating. We visiting 2 food markets, ate Appletaart, had fries again, devoured so delicious hotdogs, and ordered the most amazing hom delivery ribs in the world!
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But all too soon it was time to make a move again. So after some amazing relaxed days we headed to the airport, bound for our final destination before home.

Posted by ScottGosling 08:50 Archived in Belgium Comments (1)

The Beginning of the End

France round 2

I am very sad to say that this leg of our journey marks the beginning of the end. Our flights are booked and we'll be leaving the amazing continent of Europe on the 20th of September. So as our adventure took us from the scorching sun of Spain we aimed ourselves back north toward Amsterdam to end our journey. Luckily, however, we still had plenty of stops along the way.

The first small stop on our journey was the town of Ondres. This was really just an overnight stay for us but I still thought it was worth a mention. We were camped in a beach carpark next to a beach unlike any when had seen on our journey so far. This beach stretched into the distance in both directions with miles of white sandy shoreline. This coupled with the giant dumping wave reminded us so much of the beaches at home that we got a little bit nostalgic. Add on an incredible sunset over the ocean and it was really amazing.

The next place that we popped in to see on our way north was Bordeaux. We didn't actually spend the night there but we walked around the old town for the day. It was honestly such a surprise. We didn't really know much about Bordeaux but we had heard that it was quite beautiful. And that it was! Honestly one of the best places just to stroll along the river side looking at all the amazing buildings.
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Now the next stop on our little French tour was by far my favourite. And how could it not be? For we were in Paris! Now I am going to really struggle to express in words how much love I now have for that city. Firstly, if anyone has not been there yet you need to get yourself there ASAP! I'll do my best to give you a brief rundown of our time there without carrying on too much and let the pictures speak for themselves.

We started our tour of Paris with a little spin on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus. This is by far one of our favourite ways to see a big city because, let's be honest, double decker bus are just plain fun. After a lap on the bus and our first sight of some little known monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre Museum, we hopped off and got ourselves onto a walking tour. Again, this was a great way to get a feel for the city and get an insider perspective on what it's actually like to live in Paris. After our walking tour and some delicious French food we again boarded the bus, but this time for the night time tour complete with sparkling Eiffel Tower and neon lit Moulin Rouge. Incredible!
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Our second day in Paris we started with a little look through what is only the largest museum in the world. The Louvre. I haven't been into all that many museums in my time but just one look through the Louvre was enough to tell me it is up there with the absolute best of them. My favourite was the ancient Egyptian display (especially the Sphinx). Of course we also went and saw the number 1 most disappointing attraction in Europe, the Mona Lisa. And it's true, while I wouldn't say that is particularly disappointing, it definitely was spectacular or impressive. But hey, art really just isn't my thing. After another turn around the Hop-On Hop-Off bus we disembarked at the Eiffel tower for the thing that I was most excited for. The view from the top. After waiting in line for about an hour we were finally on our way up. The view from the top was incredible, while slightly daunting, and absolutely worth the wait. After the arduous elevator ride up the tower we needed to replenish our strength so of course, we had some incredible nutella crepes, before hopping on a boat for a relaxing cruise of the river.
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The next day we unfortunately had to move on, but not before we visited the Palace of Versailles. Now if we thought Paris itself was extravagant, Versailles was the definition of complete opulence. It was mind boggling to imagine where they even got the money for such an incredible estate. Not only was the building itself amazing, but the gardens were just as immaculate.
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Once we had finished at Versailles we headed north, continuing on our way back to Amsterdam. And here we hit a small problem. Our GPS naturally took us to the easiest road out of the city. Unfortunately this was the easiest road for vehicles under 2m tall. So we ended up weaving our way through back street to try and get to the exact opposite side of Paris to where we started, all through peak hour traffic. Our GPS said that the entire journey to or campsite for the night would take around 2 hrs. Well after an hour of driving we had travelled the 18kms around Paris and were finally on our way. And with that last night our time in France had sadly come to an end. The next stop was Belgium and the end was drawing quickly nearer.

The one last little story I must tell before I leave you is our next Frankie dilemma. Now we had been having problems with Frankie's battery light flashing for a while but it had never really bothered us. Unfortunately the battery slowly got worse and worse until, in Paris, it died completely. This was very unfortunate as almost all the light in the van, as well as the water pump, all ran off the battery. It was safe to say we would be living a little less luxuriously for the remainder of our trip. But hey, we can win them all!

Posted by ScottGosling 06:43 Archived in France Comments (0)

The Spanish Saga part II

Our return to Spain

After our all too brief time in Porugal we returned to Spain, this time heading across the southern end of the country. Our itinerary for this leg of the journey was to be Seville, Granada, Valencia, and Madrid, and I'm happy to report that there is some quite excellent Frankie drama included along the way.

OUr first stop was Seville. We weren't really sure what to expect from Seville, although we had heard it was worth a visit, and we'd been tossing up whether to spend our time in Seville or Granada. Let's just say we're glad we chose Seville. The first thing that struck us when we got off the bus was that the whole place was immaculate. The buildings were incredible, the street were clean, everything looked new and shiny, and we felt like we were in a classy French city. Needless to saw, Seville gave a good first impression. After grabbing ourselves a morning coffee we got ourselves onto a free walking tour. Again it was a great way to see the city and we also picked up some tips of what else we could do around the place. One of these things was a visit to the Alcazar, which we visited next (after a couple of hours spent in Burger King air-con and sipping free refills). The Alcazar itself was amazing, with its anciet extravagance. My favourite part was strolling through the garden courtyards. They were very impressive.
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The night we got ourselves onto a flamenco tour. We had been wanting to see a flamenco show in Spain and when we found out that flamenco originated in one of the districts of Seville, we thought we'd better see it at it's home. After a brief history of Flamenco, and a glass of traditional wine, we sat for a hour and watch 3 people bring us an incredible show and really display their culture on the stage. It was really incredible and would have to be one of my highlights from Spain.
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After leaving Seville we headed to Granada for the day to have a quick look around. Although it seemed really nice at Granada, and there was a pretty cool cathedral and nice old town, we didn't really feel there was all that much fun us in Granada. That being said we didn't really spend enough time there to get a good feel for it, and we also went a little bit budget friendly, skipping the Alhambra visit, which is the main attraction in Granada. For us however, it was onward to Valencia.

For us there was one reason and one reason only that we wanted to go to Valencia. La Tomatina! The tomato throwing festival held annually in the town of Bunol just outside of Valencia. I'm just going to put it out there; it was the most fun I've had in a long time and I've been having a lot of fun lately. What could be better than being squashed into a street with thousands of festival goers, waiting for someone to climb a greased up pole to grab a ham, so that we can all start pelting each other with tomatoes. If we thought the place was a bit wild before the throwing happened, once that first truck full of tomatoes drove through, the street descended into complete chaos. Tomatoes were going in every conceivable direction and the crowd was packed so tightly it was impossible to even function properly. I eventually managed to extricate myself and get into a side street with a little more room and a literal river of tomatoes flowing down the side. Eventually Maddie managed to join me and we proceeded to throw tomatoes at anyone who walked in our field of vision. Once we'd had our fill of tomatoes we joined the crowds at the river attempting to remove pieces of tomato from places I don't want to talk about here. It was honestly a fantastic day and well worth the hours spent washing tomato out of our hair.
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Our time spent in Valencia itself was spent pretty relaxed. I spent the nights playing cards with our Aussie neighbours (thanks Alice, Annie and Hayden), and we spent a considerable amount of time around the pool. We did however also go into the city to have a little look around. And what we found was much to my liking. The city of Valencia seemed to be pretty obsessed with animals. The have a 'Bioparc' (zoo where the animals roam free), and giant Oceanographic park, and multiple public parks with ponds and birds and even a nice finch aviary. I decided for both of us that we had to go into either the Bioparc or The Oceanographic park. We chose the Oceanographic park. I was definitely in my element there. So many different aquariums and pools with seals, penguins, birds, fish, dolphins, and even 2 beluga whales! It wasn't all about me though, Maddie was just a excited to get to see the dolphin show at the end of the day which was so much fun watching them do flips and turns. Altogether we had a great day exploring Valencia.
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By the time we arrived at Madrid we were starting to get a little exhausted from a couple of busy days. We did a walking tour in Madrid and we thought the city was really nice. Some really cool old parts and an incredible palace and cathedral side by side. In our state however we probably didn't get to make the most of our time there and the time we had was fairly limited. We needed to start heading back north so we only had the one full day in Madrid. That being said I'd say Madrid would definitely be worth a visit if you're considering it.
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With our brief time in Madrid over we plugged "Paris" into our GPS and prepared ourselves for the 1269km journey ahead of us.

Now I promised you some Frankie drama and I shall now deliver. It was the day we arrived in Valencia. We were settling into our camp site. I was setting up my computer. And I made a discovery. A horrible discovery. I called Maddie straight away and said, "have a look at the back wall, does it look weird?". Frankie's entire back wall had bowed outward, so that where the wall once sat flush with the cabinets and bathroom wall, there was now a void. The gap would be around 1cm I think and we have no idea how it happened. Luckily the wall has just bowed out and not broken away around the edges of the van. We are aware that this seems like the kind of thing you'd probably want to get fixed, but with only limited time left we're currently crossing our fingers that it doesn't get any worse, and would ask you all kindly to also cross your fingers for us. Thanks. And with that lovely piece of news I shall again leave you until next time.

Posted by ScottGosling 13:52 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

West coast wanderings

8 days is Portugal is not enough!

Our time in the wonderful land of Portugal began as a bit of a challenge. We'd located the camp site we were going to stay at and had plugged the location into our GPS. So when it told us to turn off the highway, we did. Then when it told us to turn onto a smaller road, we hesitantly did that too. It's then asked us to turn only a tiny little goat track barely wide enough for Frankie, with falling down wooden signs pointing the way. This was where we began to ignore the GPS. Despite ignoring the bad advice we still ended up winding our way up and down mountains, through tiny little villages with incredibly narrow streets, all to end up, back on the highway we started from. Once we crossed the border we again had to head up into the mountains to find our camp, but this time we were on much better roads. Our next problem came when we realised that we still had to buy our electronic toll pass, and that it was sold at the beginning of the freeway; the freeway that we had hopped off the drive up the mountains. So the Next morning we had to backtrack back to the start of the freeway to get our toll pass. Super fun. Despite all this we got ourselves sorted and headed to the city of Porto.

We absolutely loved the city of Porto. The city climbs the side of the mountains surrounding a river flowing at the bottom of the valley. We did 2 walking tours in Porto going through the very old parts of the city, as well as some of the newer more trendy areas.
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There were a couple of definitely highlights in the city of Porto for us. My first one would definitely be our visit to the Lello & Irmão bookstore. This bookstore is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world, and is also considered to be the inspiration behind some of the concepts in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Being fairly avid Potter fans Maddie and I had to check it out. Needless to say, the €3 entry fee was well worth it (and was refunded when we purchased books). The twisting spiral staircase in the centre is pretty darn incredible!
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My second highlight would be the Francesinha. When we had asked our tour guide what was a typical food in Porto, this was his answer. This thing is basically a heart attack on a plate. Bread, sausage, steak, bacon, chorizo, more steak, more bacon, more sausage, bread again, 4 slices of melted cheese, a fried egg, and spicy sauce, all surrounded by fries, and there you have it. Death on a plate. But what a way to go really. To me it tasted like someone had cooked a massive BBQ and turned it into a whopper of a burger. Amazing!
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When it came time to move on we grudgingly said goodbye to the amazing Porto and headed toward Lisbon. Now I would definitely say that Lisbon itself doesn't have the awe-inspiring views and skyline that Porto has, but it definitely still has plenty to offer. To make sure we got to see all these thing we did not 1, not 2, but 3 walking tours. Which I think would probably be our record to date. We toured through the new town, the old town, and the old exploration centre.We even got to site on the grass by the river and chat to our tour guide and some other locals for an hour or so after one of our tours which was awesome. The absolute best thing in Lisbon, however, was the Portuguese tart. And I don't mean just any Portuguese tart. I mean the original tart. these things are still served warm and needless to say, they were amazing. It took all my strength not to sit there eating them all day. Incredible!
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After Lisbon our final destination in Portugal was Lagos, down on the South coast. And I must say this stop couldn't have come at a better time. maddie was feeling a little under the weather with a cold and I was getting pretty exhausted too. Lagos was the perfect place for this with is amazing beaches and cool ocean waters we were able to lay on the beach for hours on end and slowly re-energize. we did have a stroll around the town and take a walk out to the lighthouse which provided some spectacular views of the beaches and cliffs. But mostly we just lazed on the beach. It was incredible. We thought we should also grab some food in the town one day and Maddie had found a place called Nahnahbah that supposedly had amazing burgers so we thought we'd check it out. I'm gunna be frank. The burgers were amazing, aside from being the size of Maddies head, and the fried potatoes in garlic sauce with them we divine. And with our bellies full we naturally resumed our basking reptile impression.
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At our camp site/car park we met a couple of fellow Aussie's (Jack & Em) who had just been in London for 2 years, so we spent the nights chatting to them and discussing all things travel. On our last day in Portugal we met Jack and Em along the coast a little way at a place called Benagil beach. Not only are the water and cliffs there excellent, but there is an amazing sea cave with hole in the roof and 2 entrances, both of which have to be accessed by the water. The whole coastline there was really amazing and I would be back there in a heartbeat if we had the time.
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And with that amazing final adventure our time in Portugal had come to an end almost as quickly as it had started. It was time for us to head back into Spain.

Posted by ScottGosling 13:46 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

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